Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education
Started 9:00 am
Conducted by: Inquiry Chair Professor Halsey
( Senator McKenzie made an appearance and gave a ‘speech’ promoting the coalition government.)
Including ‘Welcome to country’ People introduced themselves. I was the only small school principal. ( one private school secondary principal and 4 senior secondary principals)
Professor Halsey was a teacher in SA , was a principal at Ceduna and Adelaide and ended up in the SA Education Department and then a professor at Flinders University and is retired. He has a focus and interest in rural education. He was appointed to head this review by the Minister and expects to complete his report by the end of 2017.
Outline of the review and discussion paper
The review was informed by reviewing literature over the last 10 years and advice from the government and led to the writing of a working paper. Submissions were accepted and consultations with all departments of education, relevant stake holders, and forums have been undertaken across most of Australia.
He has found common issues emerging that will help him with his report. The catalyst for the review is data which shows children outside metropolitan areas runs down hill but not uniformly and significantly lower further out from cities. ( PISA and Naplan informs this finding)
There is also body of data about transitions from school to higher learning and employment. Once again transition rates are poorer. In his paper Professor Halsey has convictions about rural Australia. He believes vibrant rural communities are important and policy settings do matter. Policy settings are very important. The purpose of rural education from a young persons perspective is important. Providing choice should be our focus and he identifies 9 areas which impact on children’s education.( including: curriculum , teachers, leaders, community, entrepreneurship, ICT, transitions)
TAFE was described as ad hoc and problematic.
Contributions/ Q&A / Discussion
The whole group (20 people) were asked to contribute independently rather than working at tables.
- BSSSC Talked about STEM delivered online. ( last 6 years) they want to see quality online courses and funding . Reliable connectivity is required. ( NBN?)
- Discussion about private and state schools working together in rural communities despite the system administrations not cooperating. ( Catholics and Independents always talk about wanting to join in with the state system but not the other way around? Maybe because we are more innovative and dynamic?)
- TAFE in regional areas needs to promote pathways and hasn't been industry driven and collaborated with industry.
- State boundaries make issues complex with higher education.( school based apprenticeships are very complex because of state boundary issues)
- Teacher renewal and limited expertise of teachers in small/remote communities is an issue.
- Trauma and disadvantage effect small school communities and resources and supports are not there. Government funds big service providers and don't support smaller communities adequately.( Access to Headspace has been an issue) state government initiatives such as Re-Connect are being trialled and need funding. Lack of innovation funding for local solutions. Persistent theme is that communities are ‘horizontal’ but big systems are more vertical ( silos)
- I discussed the one size fits all approach to school administration elaborating on some of Professor Halsey’s anecdotes.
- Access to professional development opportunities in regional areas a problem.
- Demand for well-being support is huge in rural schools.
- Children from non English speaker backgrounds not well catered for.
- Concerns about facilities at rural campuses and lack of support for students to access university from rural areas.
- Can- do attitude of rural communities acknowledged. We know what is best and the silo approach is frustrating.
- I discussed the need for a system approach
Summary and wrap up.
General thank- you and wrap-up. The senator said the Auditor-Generals report which I mentioned was the impetus for the inquiry.
Finished up at 11:30 am